The 2017 NCAA Tournament is officially under way, so let the madness begin.
In the first "upset" of the tournament,No. 12 Middle Tennessee, widely regarded as under-seeded,knocked off No. 5 Minnesota Thursday afternoon, 81-72.
Here are three reasons why the Golden Gophers lost:
1. The seeding — Many thought Middle Tennessee should have been a No. 8 or No. 9 seed after a 30-4 record entering the tournament. Add in the fact most ofMiddle Tennessee's team was thesame as last season's squad that pulled off a massive first-round upset over No. 2 seedMichigan State, and it makes sense that this Blue Raiders team was actually favored by the spread.
Minnesota'smeans a No. 5 seed has lost to a No. 12 seed 29 of the last 33 years. It's the 47th time a 12 has pulled an upset in the matchup.
2. Gophers center Reggie Lynch got into foul trouble — Not only did Lynch spend an unnecessaryamount of time on the bench because of his foul situation, he picked up the fouls in a careless manner. After sitting a good portion of the first half next to coach Richard Pitino with two fouls, Lynch quickly picked up a bad foul nearly 90 feet from the basket to start the second half. He was even semi-lucky not to pick up a Flagrant 1 for the infraction. Pitino was livid with Lynch for his mindless act.
Though Lynch did return to the game a couple minutes after picking up his third foul, he was less aggressive and Minnesota was already down 15 points.
The Golden Gophers had a huge physical advantage on the blocks in this game, but Lynch was unable to take advantage of the mismatch. Having to switch to a smaller lineupplayed right into Middle Tennessee's hands.
3. Nate Mason struggled to find his groove — Minnesota's leading scorer, who came into the game averaging 15.5 points, was ice cold for the first 30 minutes. Turnovers, poor shotselection and questionable defense plagued Mason. Blessed with a lightning-quick first step and reliable jump shot, Mason was supposed to be the young Golden Gophers' leader in the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately for Minnesota fans, it did not work out that way.
Luckily for both Mason and coach Pitino, this Minnesota team will have most of its integral players back next season.
This game could serve as invaluable experience for their next game in the "Big Dance"